Writing a novel is no easy feat. But sometimes you find a debut novel that feels as if the author is a seasoned pro. With elegant prose and unique plot lines, these authors have the ability to transport you to new worlds with characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page. Plus, as an added bonus, when you find an exceptional debut novelist, you feel as if you’ve discovered their immense talents, which connects you to them as they publish more and more books. Enjoy these 10 debut novels by authors we know you’ll love and find out just how good they are at first impressions.
When Suresh and Lata Raman call it quits after thirty-six years of an unhappy arranged marriage, it’s not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter. While Suresh explores online dating, Lata enjoys her newfound independence — but neither of them saw new love coming so quickly. Despite their happiness, their children Priya and Nikesh not only disapprove of their parent’s new ventures but are dealing with unhappiness in their own lives too. In just three weeks, secrets — old and new — are exposed, uncovering each character to one another. But together, they’ll each find what they need to grow, and learn that second chances are always better late than never.
Ro is going through some devastating life changes — her boyfriend just left her to join a mission to Mars, her best friend is drifting away from her to plan her wedding, and the thing she loves most is about to be taken away. Dolores is many things — Ro’s confidant, her last connection to her late father, a great listener, and … an octopus. When Dolores is bought and set to leave the aquarium Ro works at, it’s the last straw that sends Ro off the deep end. Without Dolores, Ro realizes that she can no longer hide from her past but wade into the uncharted waters of her trauma and, hopefully, learn to let go.
Inspired by Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver, Damani works for a ride-share app. Living paycheck to paycheck, Damani works around the clock to drive strangers from place to place just to make ends meet. Damani hears that protests are taking place across the city to make the world a better place for people like her, but she literally can’t afford to take notice. Then she gives a ride to Jolene who seems perfect — beautiful, an ally, and participates in every protest. But just as their relationship intensifies, Jolene does something unforgivable and something snaps in Damani, setting off an explosive chain of events.
After being estranged for many years, Justin has just turned up at his sister Willa’s front door needing a place to stay. She last saw him in high school when Justin fell for a slightly older boy, who, after committing a terrible act of violence, forced Justin to flee with him, dooming Justin to live a life on the run. Now in his 30s, Willa is unsure if she wants to take on the role of protector, helping her brother recover from alcoholism, impulse control issues, and years of trauma. Can his sister be the key to Justin’s healing, or has the damage done to him left wounds too cavernous to close?
This dystopian novel presents a frightening alternate reality in which prisoners can obtain their freedom by dueling with one another. Run by an association known as Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, prisoners fight to the death in a spectacle that is televised to the masses. Here we meet Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker — teammates, lovers, and on a winning streak. Loretta’s freedom is on the horizon, but how can she leave her girlfriend and fellow prisoners to suffer in front of the whole world? If she stands up against CAPE, Loretta’s freedom might be in jeopardy, but she’ll have to decide whether her final fight will be against another prisoner or against CAPE and all of their injustices.
In Lagos, to be a vagabond is to not conform to gender, class, and other societal norms — being yourself means you are both hunted for being a threat and invisible within society. In a connected series of short stories, in which each character’s life itself is a form of rebellion and resistance, they take on the city’s demons in stories that are both realistic and fantastical. At the end, these character’s lives converge in a way that is anything but coincidental and leaves us to wonder: how many outcasts does it take to fight back?
After his marriage proposal reveals how wrong her boyfriend is for her, Nareh Bedrossian embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will lead her to a bigger and brighter future than she could have ever imagined. When Nareh agrees to her mother’s idea to join Explore Armenia — a trip to rediscover her roots and meet Armenian men (as per her mother’s request) — she ends up falling for someone totally unexpected. On the night of the first event, Nareh meets Erebuni, a woman who gets her in a way that no one else has. Now that she’s found the person she wants to be with, she just has to find a way to come out to her family — before they find out for themselves.
When Gil and his wife, Molly, take in their newly orphaned nephew, Matthew, they know it’s a risk. Their families have been estranged ever since Matthew sat idly by as Gil’s daughter nearly drowned in front of him and Gil worries that bringing Matthew home will compromise his family’s safety again. His greatest fears come to fruition when Matthew becomes a student in Gil’s creative writing class, submitting violent stories that imagine the death of his parents and Gil’s family. But when Gil decides to take matters into his own hands, he begins to question if Matthew is the one he needs to protect his family from — or if he’s in danger himself.
When Betty Rummani is born, she is believed to be stillborn until her heart miraculously starts beating, and her skin permanently turns bright blue. At the same time, across the world in Palestine, the Rummani soap factory is destroyed in an airstrike. The family matriarch Aunt Nuha believes this is not a coincidence, but a representation of their family’s legacy. Now an adult, Betty struggles to decide whether she should leave the country in order to follow the woman she loves. When Betty finds Aunt Nuha’s old notebooks she discovers they had more in common than she ever thought, giving her the courage to show her true colors.
Clare came to the University of Edinburgh to do one thing … escape. Haunted by her past, she takes refuge in becoming an anonymous face in the city. Then Clare meets the popular and wealthy Tabitha, and it seems that her luck is about to change. When Tabitha invites her to join her group of friends for dinner, Clare is overjoyed to finally belong. But she soon learns that Clare and her cohort are involved in a dangerous scheme and now there’s no turning back…